Tesla shares skid again as investors brace for possible Musk stock sale

FAN Editor
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

November 9, 2021

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc shares posted their worst daily fall in 14 months on Tuesday as investors dumped the high-flying stock ahead of a possible stake sale by company chief Elon Musk.

The electric-car maker’s shares ended down 12% at $1,023.50, the biggest daily percentage drop since early September last year. They shed $138 billion in market capitalization, far more than the total market value of Ford Motor, in addition to losing nearly $60 billion on Monday.

The rout comes after Musk asked his Twitter followers over the weekend if he should sell 10% of his stake in the company as Washington proposes to hike taxes for the super-wealthy. Nearly 58% said they would support such a sale.

Musk could time the proposed sale to coincide with a federal tax bill of nearly $11 billion that would be triggered by exercising a chunk of his Tesla stock options worth $26.6 billion as of Monday’s close.

Tesla’s shares are up around 47% year-to-date, following a blistering run in October.

After the sharp run-up in Tesla’s shares, “Musk has used the now moot political debate on billionaire taxes as an opportunity to monetize billions of his wealth without reflecting a negative view on the company or its share price,” wrote Michael O’Rourke, of Jones Trading in a note late on Monday.

“It is highly unlikely that there are institutional buyers for Tesla shares at current prices.”


Four former and current Tesla board members, including Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk, filed to sell nearly $1 billion worth of shares since Tesla’s market value surpassed $1 trillion late last month, according to filings and market data.

Kimbal Musk on Friday filed to sell 88,500 Tesla shares worth $109 million, a day before Elon Musk tweeted about his 10% stake.

“The Big Short” investor Michael Burry noted “the tax-free cash he took out in the form of personal loans backed by 88.3 million of his shares,” Business Insider reported, citing his tweet on Musk’s stake sale.

Billionaires have been criticized for borrowing against their stock without selling the stock and paying capital gains tax on the appreciation.

Burry and Tesla were not immediately available for comment.

While the stock sale could solve a major tax headache for Musk, his tweets raised questions about potential violation of his settlement with the U.S. securities regulator.He was fined $20 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for tweets in 2018 and was required to step down as chairman.

Investors will closely watch SEC filings from Tesla for any details on Musk’s plans. SEC rules give companies four working days to report major events.

Meanwhile, rival electric-vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc is poised to price its roughly $10 billion initial public offering later on Tuesday.

Backed by both Amazon.com Inc and Ford Motor Co, Rivian last Friday boosted its offering’s price range as investors bet on the company to be the next big player in a sector dominated by Tesla.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Noel Randewich, Ira Iosebshvili and Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Anil D’Silva, Cynthia Osterman and Dan Grebler)

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